Rising oil prices will not only hurt working families at the pump, but will create an economic ripple effect felt at the local level. Record high gas prices will mean increased costs for schools to transport our students and for the police who must patrol our neighborhoods. The result could be more taxes on already overtaxed Suffolk families.
According to the American Automobile Association the national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas is $3.03 while the average on Long Island is $3.31. The Energy Department predicted in a recent report that homeowners in the Northeast can expect a 31 percent increase in home heating bills this winter.
New York is one of nine states that levy a sales tax on gasoline. To help New Yorkers cope with rising energy costs, I am supporting a bill to remove the state sales and compensating use taxes on diesel and motor fuels in an effort to immediately lower pump prices (A.4470). Current state sales taxes in New York add approximately 17 cents to the price of each gallon of gas.
Although the price spikes can be attributed to a number of factors including damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, gas prices have been increasing steadily over the past year. In fact, the price of gas has nearly doubled since 2002. In response the Assembly has announced hearings to investigate short-term and long-term solutions to alleviate this crisis. The first hearing will take place in Albany on September 14th.
Working families on Long Island are already overwhelmed by high property taxes. Tax relief is the answer, and this bill will lower gasoline taxes and bring the price down. I strongly urge my colleagues in the Assembly and Senate to return to Albany and pass this important legislation.